"Anita" by Smino
Last year the rapper Aminé found success with his off-kilter hit "Caroline," and it would appear Chicago's Smino is going to be the next rapper to hit it big with a quirky love song—albeit this time about "Anita." Produced by the multi-talented, and also Chicago-based, Monte Booker, Smino's sweet ode is perfect, groovy post-Valentine's Day funk.
"Digital Love" by Digital Farm Animals ft. Hailee Steinfeld
Actor and singer Hailee Steinfeld finds another success, lending her voice to the Tinder-inspired "Digital Love" by London's electronic music act Digital Farm Animals. The lyrics are cheeky ("I'd swipe right 'cause I see just what I like / Baby I'd tap twice for you"), but the airy beat and Steinfeld's proclamations imbue even the cheesiest lines with an earnest sweetness.
"Bermuda" by Ray Volpe
There seems to be a new electronic music genre popping up every few months, but dubstep continues to march dutifully forward. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based producer Ray Volpe is still a teenager, but he's provided an excellent showcase of the style with the thunderous "Bermuda," which even has a bit of that late '90s Fatboy Slim frenzy.
"Shining" by DJ Khaled
Even if Beyoncé didn't win the Grammy for Album of the Year, it's easy to forget that when listening to her latest song, made with her husband Jay Z and human meme DJ Khaled. A track devoted to stunting on haters, it sees all three basking in their career successes, with Jay Z dropping many goofy, but sweet, soon-to-be-dad-again jokes.
"Pull Up Wit Ah Stick" by SahBabii ft. Loso Loaded
While Chicago and New York City continue to step up their output of new exciting new rappers and singers, Atlanta remains the genre's true musical center. SahBabii's "Pull Up Wit Ah Stick" proves why that's still the case, as the song's gritty subject matter is quickly undercut by SahBabii's quasi-singing cadence and pillow-soft production. If 21 Savage was able to start an R&B career, Sahbabii isn't far off the mark.
"Rules" by Hoops
One hundred and thirty-three seconds might not look like a lot on paper, but the band Hoops, from Bloomington, Indiana, sure knows how to cram a whole lot of heartbreak into a small amount of time. The glimmering guitar hum recalls Beach Fossils and Real Estate, but to their credit, Hoops play with a welcome, vibrant urgency that keeps "Rules" buzzing along.
"Outlet" by Desiigner
Last year, the Brooklyn, New York rapper Desiigner arrived with a number-one hit in "Panda" and the full backing of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. music label. The rapper is gearing up for his first tour and "Outlet," another frantic track full of the rapper's absurdist ad-libs, is hopefully a good tease for fans excited about what he's got in store for 2017.
"Love Is Alive" by Louis the Child ft. Elohim
Last year, this teenaged Chicago duo helped co-write the Chainsmokers' "Closer," which ended up becoming the biggest song of 2016. They now tour constantly and sell out shows, and with their latest song, "Love Is Alive," they continue to push toward a sound that's likely to bring them out of the EDM world and fully into the pop mainstream.
"Flower Glass" by Hand Habits
"Flower Glass," the opening song on Hand Habit's debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), feels as though it's constantly on the verge of falling apart. This isn't because of the structure, as the song is exquisitely put together; rather, it's the lyrics that give that impression: "When I hold you like a flower / when I hold you like an hourglass." Here's hoping singer Meg Duffy can keep hanging on.
"Lights Out (Ghastly Remix)" by Zomboy
There is really no way to describe Ghastly's remix of Zomboy's "Lights Out" other than: Loud AF. This abrasive dubstep remix is perhaps not ideal headphones listening, but it is perfect as a wake-up call, or for when you need an instant jolt of energy.
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